BMW has made a U-turn on a controversial subscription service that saw drivers pay a fee to activate the heated seats already fitted to their car.
First announced in 2020, the subscription was intended to be one of many ways to offer flexibility to customers, who could opt in to pay for vehicle functions when it suited them, then stop paying when they were no longer wanted.
But instead of options like increased electric car performance – as was later offered by Mercedes – or other technology-driven functions like autonomous parking or a 5G data connection, BMW drew criticism for charging a subscription for heated seats already installed at the factory.
Now though, BMW will no longer offer such a service. Speaking to Autocar this week, BMW’s board member for sales and marketing, Pieter Nota, said: “We actually are now focusing with those ‘functions on demand’ on software and service-related products, like driving assistance and parking assistance, which you can add later after purchasing the car, or for certain functions that require data transmission that customers are used to paying for in other areas.”
Crucially, Nota said BMW will not offer subscriptions to activate hardware already fitted to the vehicle. He added: “What we don’t do anymore – and that is a very well-known example – is offer seat heating by this way. It’s either in or out. We offer it by the factory and you either have it or you don’t have it.”
BMW found customer uptake for the heated seats subscription was not high, Nota said, adding: “People feel that they paid double – which was actually not true, but perception is reality, I always say. So that was the reason we stopped that.”
Going forward, BMW drivers can expect to have the option of subscribing to software-based functions like parking assistance.